Developing a novel ammonia synthesis process from N2 and H2 is of interest to the catalysis and hydrogen research communities. γ-Alumina-supported nickel was determined capable of serving as an efficient catalyst for ammonia synthesis using nonthermal plasma under atmospheric pressure without heating. The catalytic activity was almost unrelated to the crystal structure and the surface area of the alumina carrier. The activity of Ni/Al2O3 was quantitatively compared with that of Fe/Al2O3 and Ru/Al2O3, which contained active metals for the conventional Haber–Bosch process. The activity sequence was Ni/Al2O3 > Al2O3 > Fe/Al2O3 > no additive > Ru/Al2O3, surprisingly indicating that the loading of Fe and Ru decreased the activity of Al2O3. The catalytic activity of Ni/Al2O3 was dependent on the amount of loaded Ni, the calcination temperature, and the reaction time. XRD, visual, and XPS observations of the catalysts before the plasma reaction indicated the generation of NiO and NiAl2O4 on Al2O3, the latter of which was generated upon high-temperature calcination. The NiO species was readily reduced to Ni metal in the plasma reaction, whereas the NiAl2O4 species was difficult to reduce. The catalytic behavior could be attributed to the production of fine Ni metal particles that served as active sites. The PN2/PH2 ratio dependence and rate constants of formation and decomposition of ammonia were finally determined for 5.0 wt % Ni/Al2O3 calcined at 773 K. The ammonia yield was 6.3% at an applied voltage of 6.0 kV, a residence time of reactant gases of 0.12 min, and PH2/PN2 = 1.
- Ammonia synthesis
- Atmospheric pressure
- Nonthermal plasma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry